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World Health Day highlights protection of health workers

Washington, USA

The protection of all health care workers in the face of CoViD-19 has been highlighted as doctors, nurses, midwives and many others in the industry who work to keep communities healthy are recognized on World Health Day, 7 April.

Pan American Health Organization Director Carissa F. Etienne said this is a time to acknowledge and celebrate doctors, nurses, midwives and the many other people working to keep our communities healthy.

“Our health workers deserve our recognition, our praise and our gratitude. Above all, they deserve to be able to protect themselves while they do their jobs.”

She urged countries to take measures that protect health care workers to ensure they have access to the personal protective equipment and supplies they need to care for patients affected by the disease. 

 “A pandemic like COVID-19 would overwhelm any health system, but its impact on those without sufficient health workers will be devastating,” she said. 

“Limited supplies of gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles and gowns can lead to a wave of preventable infections among health workers.”

“Now is not the time to hoard and stockpile. It is a time for easing export restrictions and embracing flexible regulations that enable access in the places that will be hardest hit in the next few weeks. Governments and the private sector should also seek innovative solutions to boost production and repurpose industrial capacity to expand supplies.”  

Care must also be provided for our health workers through support networks that allow them to preserve their mental and physical health.

“We must celebrate them for the heroes they are and protect them from stigma. We should encourage and admire our health workers, not fear and disrespect them.

Americas Region

Meanwhile in the Region of the Americas, cases of CoViD-19 have doubled in a week.

“Shortages of the most basic protective equipment leave doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously vulnerable as they care for COVID-19 patients,” said Dr Etienne.

The region has seen 384,435 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported up to 6 April, and 11,270 people have lost their lives.

“In just seven days, we witnessed cases and deaths more than double in our region. The pandemic is accelerating rapidly, and I urge governments to prepare and respond at the same speed,” she said.

Countries are urged to follow PAHO guidelines and recommendations including social distancing measures to lessen the burden on health systems.

“All of us need to be prepared for more difficult weeks ahead,” she said.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) serves as the WHO Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO) and is the specialized health agency of the inter-American system.


In Tonga, there have been no CoViD-19 cases recorded and health officials are still waiting for medical equipment and PPE supplies which are scheduled to reach the country this month.

The kingdom's international borders are closed to commercial passenger planes and ships up to 18 April.